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Keeshond Dog Breed: Everything You Have To Know

Keeshond Dog Breed: Everything You Have To Know

The Keeshond (pronounced KAYZ-hawnd, with the plural of Keeshond being Keeshonden) is a medium-sized dog with an adorable fluffy coat. Because of his position as a companion and guardian on barges and small boats on Holland’s many canals and rivers, he was dubbed the “Dutch Barge Dog” for years.

While the Keeshond will bark at anyone who approaches his property, he is such a loving dog that he will tolerate anyone his owner invites into the house. In reality, he isn’t a very good guard dog. They are just way too friendly for that!

Keeshonds are people-lovers who are eager to participate in all family activities and thrive in households where their dog is expected to do so. They’re active, attentive, and intelligent, attributes that have earned them the title of Holland’s most popular dog.

This unique breed can even make fine apartment pets, but be aware that they have a proclivity for barking, which may annoy your neighbors. They won’t appreciate being left home alone for long periods of time. Buy you’ll have a loving, fluffy family member if you can meet the breed’s requirements.

Cool temperature is a favorite of the Keeshond. When the weather is nice, he enjoys spending time outside. He’s not a backyard dog, though; he’s far too people-oriented for that. He enjoys being inside and laying with you on the couch.

The Keeshond is fond of youngsters and enjoys playing with them. If introduced to other dogs and pets at a young age, the Keeshond gets along swimmingly.

Keeshond History & Origins

The Keeshond is a long-established breed that has served as a family friend and watchdog for ages. Many Keeshonden were found living on barges and farms in Holland in the 17th and 18th centuries. They were often seen on Dutch vessels as watch dogs and loyal companions to their owners.

Their masters relied on them to keep the vermin population under control as well as being their sturdy companions. They became later one of the symbols of the small vessels of Rhine River where they served as barge dogs. 

Spitz types of dog such as the Samoyed, Chow, Norwegian Elkhound, Finnish Spitz, and Pomeranian are all near relatives of the Keeshond. 

During a period of political instability in Holland, the Keeshond became the most popular dog. The Keeshond, a long-time native of Holland, became the Patriot Party’s symbol in the 18th century. The name is derived from the group’s leader, Kees De Gyselaer. “Kees’ dog” in Dutch would be “Kees hund,” which is the source for the breed name.

Miss Hamilton-Fletcher rediscovered the breed in 1905. She persuaded her parents to take two puppies home with them. These dogs were brought to England and served as the foundation stock for the breed’s expansion outside of Holland. The English breed club was founded in 1926.

after Baroness van Hardenbroeck started making the breed popular again in the 1920 in other parts of Europe as well, including their homeland — the Netherlands.

Carl Hinderer produced the first American litter of Keeshonds in 1929. In 1930, the American Kennel Club AKC registered the first Keeshond in the Non-Sporting Group, and the Keeshond Club of Americas was founded in 1935.

The Keeshond is still recognized as a devoted house pet and beloved “people dog” today.

Personality & Temperament

The Keeshond was bred as a companion dog rather than a watchdog. He’s not a hunter, and he has no intrinsic urge to accomplish anything extraordinary. First and foremost, he is a loyal buddy.

He’s also smart and easily trainable. He’s so brilliant that he can be a touch naughty at times. With these guys, anticipate the unexpected. Despite this, the breed learns correct canine manners quickly and does well in obedience competitions.

A Keeshond is a lively, alert, and outgoing dog. When he’s excited or joyful, he likes to spread his happiness around by spinning in circles. His lively nature, as well as his fondness for both adults and children, endears him to everyone.

The Keeshond, like all dogs, requires early socialization, which includes exposure to a variety of people, sights, noises, and experiences. Socialization is important for your Keeshond puppy’s development as a well-rounded dog.

Enrolling him in puppy school is a terrific place to start. Regularly inviting visitors over and taking him to crowded parks, dog-friendly stores, and leisurely strolls to meet neighbors can all help him improve his social skills.

Because of the Keeshond’s inherent instincts, no extra training is normally required for them to perform as an alert watchdog. They rarely bite, though, and once welcomed into the family, the keeshond will accept them with open arms.

The Keeshond is a dog that is naturally friendly to both people and other canines. Their need for Al affection is strong, and they would rather be involved in the family than left outside alone. Keeshonden bark and “speak” at the same time.

The alert Keeshond barks to warn of an approaching stranger, but they are rarely nuisance barkers.

Are they good family dogs?

Keeshonden are adorable, clever dogs with a charming attitude. They make excellent family pets because of their playful and friendly disposition. The Keeshonden, unlike other northern breeds, are quite easy to train.

They are rarely nuisance barkers, although they will bark if a stranger approaches. A keeshond is happiest when he is spending time with his family. Of course, the ideal condition is for the dog to be able to enter and exit the house on its own via a dog door.

In cold weather, Keeshonden can stay outside, but shelter should be given. A hot, humid atmosphere is not suggested for their thick coats.

For families with children, the Keeshond is an excellent pet. He’s a fun-loving, good-natured pal for children of all ages. The Keeshond gets along nicely with other dogs and pets as long as he is adequately socialized and trained.

As with any breed, teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and constantly supervise any interactions between dogs and small children to avoid biting or ear or tail pulling on either party’s side. Teach your youngster to never approach a dog who is eating or sleeping, or to try to steal the dog’s food. No dog should ever be left alone with a child, no matter how friendly it is.

The Keeshond’s needs and care

The Keeshond has learned to be happy in a confined place, having been bred first for life on a barge and then as a companion dog. He can live his best life no matter what the place is: In an apartment, a house with a huge yard, or on a boat.

The Keeshond’s desire to reside in the house with his family is more essential than space. As a companion breed, he must be allowed to participate in as many facets of his owners’ lives as possible.

He’ll become bored if left unattended in the yard for hours on end with little or no contact with his family, and his natural proclivity to bark will increase. If given the opportunity, he has the potential to become a nuisance barker. If you do not want to spend daily quality time with your Keeshond in the house, you might select a different breed.

Although all dogs benefit from exercise, the Keeshond does not require much. For example, he isn’t often regarded as the breed of choice for long-distance runners. However, at least one brisk daily stroll is recommended for both your and his health.

The Keeshond does not enjoy hot weather and is more at ease in cooler temperatures. Keep him inside in an air-conditioned residence or near fans on hot days. A tiny children’s wading pool filled with chilly water will also appeal to certain Keeshonds.

Food & Nutrition

The optimum diet for your dog will vary depending on its age, activity level, and weight, but you should anticipate to feed your Keeshond one to two cups of high-quality dog food twice a day.

Overfeeding can cause health problems in dogs, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Follow the weight-based portion guidelines on your dog’s food. If you’re not sure how much to give your Keeshond, your veterinarian can advise you on a balanced diet.

They are a small breed which is why they require so little food. But try to make their meals as healthy as possible and feed them only the best dog food.

You can also try out different Troyes of diets such as a raw diet and see which one your dog likes best. But only do that under veterinarian supervision.


With his thick, double top coat the Keeshond has an adorable fluffy look. Their abundant coat has a lot of harsh hairs and guard hairs on top to protect their downy undercoat.  The color of the Keeshond is a mix of cream, black, and gray.

He has markings named spectacles in the form of a delicate, black line going from the outer corner of each eye toward the ear. Any pronounced deviation from these colors isn’t allowed.

Surprisingly, the full coat of the Keeshond is rather simple to maintain. Shedding isn’t a significant issue if you brush him at least twice a week. He sheds a bit more twice a year. This shedding period can be pretty long, lasting up to three weeks.

Keeshonds are relatively clean canines with little doggie stink. Bathe him every three months or so, or when you see obvious dirt on his coat. Too frequent bathing can dry his skin out.

Given the breed’s thick coat and heat intolerance, you might believe it’s a good idea to shave it down in the summer. The coat, on the other hand, insulates the Keeshond, keeping him cool and protecting him from sunburn. Regular brushing will be more than enough.

Using a warm moist towel or cotton ball, clean your ears once a week. Your veterinarian can advise you on which ear cleaning solution is best for your pup.

Your dog’s nails should also be trimmed. Use a dog-specific nail clipper and take special care not to cut too deeply into the skin or blood vessels.

To make things easier, you can have it done by your veterinarian or a professional groomer. Brush your dog’s teeth at least twice a week. This will prevent dental issues and gum infections.


Keeshonds are smart dogs who like pleasing their owners. Positive-reinforcement training works best for this breed, and it can start basic obedience as early as eight weeks of age. Remember that these canines were bred to live with barge operators and are designed to be with them at all times.

You might want to consider a different breed if your family is frequently away from home. Keeshonds dislike being left alone and have been known to bark excessively or become destructive when bored.

Positive reinforcement does wonders for them. As a result, when training them, you should give them goodies like treats and even verbal praise if they perform a good job.

They are unbelievably prone to separation anxiety, and because they love their owners so much, if not properly socialized they could become overly-protective.

So make sure you start socializing them as soon as possible. Then they will be able to live peacefully, not only with you but with kids and other animals as well.


Keeshonds thrive in tiny places and don’t require too much activity, because to their history as barge dogs.

To keep the amiable Keeshond healthy and happy, take several walks or one longer, more active stroll each day. Agility sports, puzzles, a good chase and indoor games are excellent ways to keep this sturdy dog active.

This makes them the ideal pet for people living in cities or small apartments that aren’t too much of an outdoor type. The Keesh is perfectly content with laying with you on the couch and watching your favorite show.

Keeshond Health

Generally speaking, this is a healthy breed that lives a relatively long life. A Keeshond’s lifespan is usually between 12 and 15 years.

Because some health difficulties are still possible, look for a reputable breeder who performs pre-breeding health exams and can provide you with confirmation of normal results.

The Keeshond breed is especially prone to hyperparathyroidism, ventricular septal defect, eye diseases and Alopecia X.

Hyperparathyroidism is a disease that keeshonden might inherit as a result of an autosomal dominant characteristic, and it usually involves a type of cancer related with the parathyroid gland.

Ventricular septal defect is a congenital heart condition that can be passed down down the generations in keeshonden. This abnormality can cause a loud cardiac murmur in puppies, as well as other symptoms like weakness, lethargy, coughing, and even fainting.

Alopecia X is a cosmetic disorder that causes symmetrical hair loss on the back end of a dog.

Diabetes mellitus, elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, and patellar luxation are all diseases that Keeshonden are susceptible to due to their size.

Regular vet visits and your devoted attention will ensure that your Keeshond remains healthy. In addition to that, a healthy diet with enough exercise will make sure that your dog’s health is in good condition.

Most common health issues

Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia occurs when the hip joint becomes unstable as a result of both developmental and environmental factors. Dogs are prone to this bone and joint disorder. The femur does not meet the pelvic bone appropriately, causing the bones to wear out prematurely.

Later in life, your dog may develop arthritis, which can be excruciatingly painful. This ailment shows itself as a peculiar walk, shaky posture, or limping, all of which are plainly seen in your beautiful pup. To preserve your dog’s quality of life, discuss care with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Patellar Luxation

This is a condition in which the kneecap isn’t properly anchored, which makes it slip out of position and mechanically lock the leg. After a few steps, the kneecap ‘unlocks’ allowing the dog to carry on. While mild cases can be managed with pain control, some dogs will require surgery.

Diabetes Mellitus

This is a condition where the body’s blood sugar levels are uncontrollably high. A diabetic dog will eat extra food to compensate for the fact that glucose (sugar) isn’t getting into the cells to be burned for energy due to low insulin levels. Because food isn’t being used efficiently, the dog will lose weight. Excessive thirst and urination, as well as an increase in hunger and weight loss, are all symptoms of diabetes. Diet and insulin treatment can both help to manage diabetes.


Allergies to pollen, mold, and dust cause people to sneeze. Instead of sneezing, allergies in dogs produce itching. Atopy is a name used to describe a common skin allergy in these puppies. The feet, tummy, skin wrinkles, and ears are the most commonly affected locations. Symptoms normally emerge between the ages of one and three, and they can get worse as time goes on. Licking the paws, stroking the face, and recurring ear infections are the most prevalent allergy symptoms. The good news is that these diseases can be treated in a number of different ways.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive retinal atrophy is an eye ailment that might have a negative impact on the quality of life of your dog. This usually happens later in life as a result of retinal degeneration. Retinal dysplasia is the name for the early-onset type, which is observed in puppies. This is when the retinal cells do not mature properly.

The dog becomes partially or completely blind in both cases. While the disease isn’t unpleasant, it can have a significant influence on your dog’s quality of life. Consult your veterinarian about your dog’s alternatives, as well as what to do if he becomes blind.


Unfortunately, dogs too can develop epilepsy and seizures. Recurrent seizures with no known cause or abnormal brain damage characterize epilepsy. To put it another way, the brain appears normal on the outside but functions strangely on the inside. Twitching, shaking, tremors, convulsions, and/or spasms are all symptoms of a seizure.

Von Willebrand’s Disease

This is one of the most prevalent blood clotting problems in humans, and you might be surprised to learn that it can also affect your dog. Von Willebrand’s disease is caused by a lack of the von Willebrand Factor, a protein that aids in blood clotting.

In the event of even a minor cut, this can result in significant bleeding. This disease is difficult to detect because your dog may appear to be in perfect health for their whole life, unless they have an injury. Other signs and symptoms may appear in some dogs. Nosebleeds, blood in the feces or urine, and easily damaged skin are examples.

If you and your dog are both careful, this ailment will not have a significant impact on your dog’s quality of life. Inquire with your veterinarian about treatment options for the condition. It’s critical to have your puppy checked for this problem as soon as possible, as certain medications, such as aspirin, might make it worse.

Addison’s Disease

This is another health condition to which Poodles are especially prone to. Addison’s Disease means the body doesn’t produce enough natural steroid hormone and therefore struggles to cope with stress. This condition could get worse over time and even be life threatening. But it can be managed with steroid supplements.

Where to find a Keeshond puppy?

While finding a Keeshond at your local shelter may be tough, breed-specific rescues can assist you in finding your next best friend. Many similar breeds in need of forever homes may be more readily available in your area, and adopting a rescue can be a very gratifying experience.

If you decide to buy a Keeshond from a breeder, do your homework to make sure the breeder is ethical, reputable, and moral. Responsible breeders should disclose medical information and allow potential adopters to meet the parents of the litter (along with showing their living conditions).

Puppies are usually priced between $1,500 and $2,000, however costs might vary according on availability and lineage.

The Keeshond is a popular dog breed, but it’s also a rare breed that can be difficult to come by. If you’re looking to adopt a Keeshond, use the National Breed Club’s tools to identify rescues and breeders in your area.

They are still relatively popular in the Netherlands so you can even try to get one from overseas. However, this could be pretty expensive as there are a lot of additional costs such as transportation and papers.

Final thoughts

Keeshonds are incredibly affectionate and devoted personalities, despite their loud barks and great watchdog skills. They build strong attachments to their owners and get along with children, other pets, and strangers.

In fact, Keeshonds have such a pleasant demeanor toward strangers that they aren’t advised as guard dogs, even if their bark may deter invaders.

Keeshonds are perfect for families who spend a lot of time at home. They’ve been known to bark constantly or even become destructive if left alone for too long. They are called velcro dogs for a reason! 

Keeshonds are a good choice for first-time dog owners because they’re intelligent and easy to train. Because the Keeshond was developed to live on small boats, they can adapt to a wide range of environments, from a small apartment to a large house. This is a huge plus if you own a small space and a larger breed would be too much for you. 

Separating a Keeshond from his family is the best way to make him miserable. He was bred to be a companion, and he need a place in the family. Consider a more independent breed if you don’t want your dog to join in on family barbeques, card games, or movie nights.

My name is Katy and I am 27. I love to travel and you would be surprised how good I am at karaoke. 🙂 Passionate dog lover and a "mother" to a beautiful toy puddle named Zara. I work as a volunteer in a local shelter and I am a veterinary assistant helping our four-legged friends every day.